Open Source Urbanism: Information Technologies, Collaborative Cartography and Urban Planning
Spatial Information Design Lab, Columbia University, New York
September – December 2011
The research accommodated by The Columbia University’s Spatial Information Design Lab (SIDL) in New York City is an organic continuation of my research initiated a few years ago, focusing on the relationship between cartography, data-visualization and community participation in the context of various cities. My research accepted in the framework of the SIDL will be primarily related to the institution’s work and in particular to its “Crowd Sourced City” program. This project concentrates on the new research and planning perspectives opened up by new technologies and social networks: it deals with the aggregation of information that is “scattered around”, the generation of community participation in the collection of data, and the technological and scientific support of institutions eager to use these data.
In the course of the study, I will also investigate the role of SIDL and its partner organizations in contributing to decision-making: one of the main goals of my inquiry is to look at ways in which research institutes, NGOs, commercial firms use methods of data-aggregation, cartography and data-visualization in articulating positions in urban policy. As a consequence, throughout the research, I will explore the positioning of SIDL and similar organizations – the Orange Labs in Paris, the MIT SENSEable Lab in Boston, etc. – as actors in urban policymaking. As a result, I will not only analyze these Information City-initiatives, but will also use them as a context to investigate the role and significance of web 2.0 platforms, open source applications and collaborative cartography practices in the democratization of urban policy and planning.